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NOW With Alex Wagner

News/Business. Alex Wagner. Forces driving the day's stories. New.

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Us 13, America 9, Boehner 4, Newtown 3, Washington 3, Nra 2, David Gregory 2, Mitch Mcconnell 2, Peter Alexander 2, Curt Anderson 2, New York 2, Amy 1, Mira 1, Unitedhealthcare 1, Lyndon Johnson 1, Curt 1, Ryon Stewart 1, Michael Steele 1, Amy Barns 1, A.m. Pacific 1,
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  MSNBC    NOW With Alex Wagner    News/Business. Alex Wagner.  
   Forces driving the day's stories. New.  

    January 14, 2013
    9:00 - 10:00am PST  

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which speaker boehner has acknowledged can raise money in a sensible way and by doing some additional cuts, including making sure that we are reducing our health care spending, which is the main driver of our deficits, we can arrive at a package that gets this thing done. i'm happy to have that conversation. what i will not do is to have that negotiation with a gun at the head of the american people, the threat that unless we get our way, unless you gut medicare or medicaid or you know, otherwise slash things that the american people don't believe should be slashed, that we're going to threaten to wreck the entire economy. that is not how historically this has been done. that's not how we're going to do it this time.
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what i'm saying to you is there is no simpler solution, no ready, credible solution other than congress either give me the authority to raise the debt ceiling or exercise the responsibility that they have kept for themselves and raise the debt ceiling because this is about paying your bills. everybody -- everybody here understands this. i mean, this is not a complicated concept. you don't go out to dinner and eat all you want and then leave without paying the check. if you do, you're breaking the law. congress should think about it the same way that the american people do. now, if congress wants to have a debate about maybe we shouldn't go out to dinner next time, maybe we should go to a more
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modest restaurant, that's fine. that's a debate that we should have. but you don't say in order for me to control my appetites, i'm going to not pay the people who already provided me services. it's not meeting your obligations. you can't do that. that's not a credible way to run this government. we've got to stop lurching from crisis to crisis to crisis when there's this clear path ahead of us that simply requires some discipline, some responsibility, and some compromise. that's where we need to go. that's how this needs to work. major garrett. >> thank you, mr. president. as you well know, sir, finding votes for the debt ceiling can be complicated.
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you as a member of the senate voted against the debt ceiling increase, and in previous aspects of american history, president reagan in 1985, president george herbert walker bush, and president clinton in 1997 all signed a deficit reduction deal that were continge ebt upon or in the context of raising the debt ceiling. you yourself four times have done that. three times those were related to deficit reduction or budget maneuvers. there's a new adamant desire on your part not to negotiate when that seems to conflict with the entire history in the modern era of american presidents in the debt ceiling ask your own history on the debt ceiling, and doesn't that suggest that we are going to go into a default situation because no one is talking to each other about how to resolve this. >> well, no, major. i think if you look at the history he went through this just last year, but what's different is we never saw a situation as we saw last year in
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which certain groups in congress took such an absolutist position that we came within a few days of defaulting. we might default unless we get 100% of what we want. that hasn't happened. now, as i indicated before, i'm happy to have a conversation about how we reduce our deficits further in a sensible way. although one thing i want to point out is that the american people are also concerned about how we grow our economy, how we put people back to work, how we make sure that we finance our workers getting properly trained and our schools are giving our kids the education they deserve. there's a whole growth agenda
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that will address our deficit as well, but what you have never seen is the notion that has been presented so far at least by the republicans that deficit reduction will all account for spending cuts, that we will raise the deficit -- or the debt ceiling dollar per dollar on spending cuts there are a whole set of rules that have been established that are impossible to meet without doing severe damage to the economy. so away we're not going to do is put ourselves in a position where in order to pay for spending that we've already incurred that our two options are we're either going to profoundly hurt the economy and hurt middle class families and hurt seniors and hurt kids who are trying to go to college or alternatively we're going to blow up the economy. we're not going to do that.
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>> not whatever congress sends me. it's got to be something sensible. we shouldn't be -- and we shouldn't be doing this on a one to three month time frame. why would we do that? this is the united states of america, major. we can't manage our affairs in such a way that we pay our bills and we provide some certainty in terms of how we pay our bills? look, i don't think anybody would consider my position unreasonable here. i am happy to have a conversation about how we reduce our deficits. i am not going to have a monthly or every three months
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conversation about whether or not we pay our bills. even the threat of default hurts our economy. it's hurting our economy as we speak. we shouldn't be having that debate. if we want to have a conversation about how to reduce our deficit, let's have that. we've been having that. we just had an entire campaign about it. by the way, the american people agreed with me. that we should account to grow our economy and put people back to work. despite the election results, the position that's been taken on the part of some house republicans is that, no, we got to do it our way. if we don't, we simply won't pay america's bills. well, that can't be a position
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that is sustainable over time. >> it's not one i want to establish not just for my presidency, but for future presidents. even if it was on the other side. democrats don't like voting for the debt ceiling when a republican is president, and, yet, you -- but you never saw a situation in which democrats suggested somehow that we would go ahead and default if we didn't get 100% of our way. that's not how it's supposed to work. john carl. >> thank you, mr. president. on the issue of guns, given how difficult it will be, some would say impossible, to get any gun control measure passed through this congress what are you willing to & able to do in the power of your presidency to act without congress, and i would also like to know, what do you make of these long lines we're seeing at gun shows and gun stores all around the country? i mean, even in connecticut
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applications for guns are up since the shooting in newtown. >> the vice president is going to show steps we can take, and some will require legislation. some of them i can accomplish through executive action, and so i'll be reviewing those today, and as i said, i'll speak in more detail to what we're going to go ahead and propose later in the week. i'm confident there are some steps that we can take that don't require legislation and that are within my authority as president. where you get a step that has the opportunity to reduce the possibility of gun violence, then i want to go ahead and take it. well, i think, for example, how we are gathering data, for example, on guns that fall into the hands of criminals and how we track that more effectively.
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there may be some steps that we can take administratively as opposed to through legislation. as far as people lining up and purchasing more guns, i think that we've seen for and time now that those who oppose any commonsense gun control or gun safety measures have a pretty effect ti way of ginning up fear on the part of gun owners that somehow the federal government is about it take all your guns away. and that -- there's probably an economic element to that. it obviously is good for bess. but i think that those of us who look at this problem have repeatedly said that responsible
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gun owners, people who have a gun for protection, for hunting, for sportsmanship, they don't have anything to worry about. the issue here is not whether or not we believe in the second amendment. the issue is are there some sensible steps that we can take to make sure that somebody like the individual in newtown can't walk into a school and gun down a bunch of children in a shockingly rapid fashion. and surely we can do something about that. you know, but part of the challenge that we confront is that even the slightest hint of some sensible responsible legislation in this area fans this notion that somehow here it
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comes and that everybody's guns are going to be taken away. it's unfortunate, but that's the case, and if you look over the first four years of my administration, we've tried to tighten up and enforce some of the laws that were already on the books, but it would be pretty hard to argue that somehow gun owners have had their rights infringed. [ inaudible ] >> excuse me? >> i think it's a fear than fanned by those who are worried about the possibility of any legislation getting out there. juliana goldman. i just want to come back to the
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debt ceiling. you said you wouldn't in this on the debt ceiling, and you did. last year you said that you wouldn't extend any of the bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and you did. as you say now that you're not going to negotiates on the debt ceiling this year, why should house republicans take that seriously and say if we get to the one minute to midnight scenario that you're not going to back down? >> well, first of all, juliana, let's take the example of this year and the fiscal cliff. i didn't say that i would not have any conversations at all about extending the bush tax cuts. i just said we wouldn't extend them for the wealthy. we didn't. you can argue that during the campaign i said -- i set the criteria for wealthy at $250,000, and we ended up being at $400,000, but the fact of the matter is millionaires and billionairres are paying significantly more in taxes just
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as i said. so for, you know, from the start, my concern was making sure that we had a tax code that was fair and it protected the middle class, and my biggest priority was making sure that middle class taxes did not go up. the difference between this year and 20112 is the fact that we have already made $1.2 trillion in cuts, and at the time i indicated that there were cuts that we could sensibly make that would not damage our economy, would not impede growth. i said at the time i think we should pair it up with revenue in order to have an overall balanced package, but my own budget reflected cuts in discretionary spending. my own budget reflected the cuts that needed to be made, and we've made those cuts. now, the challenge going forward is that we've now made some big
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cuts. if we're going to do further deficit reduction, the only way to do it is in a balanced and responseible way. the alternative is for us to go ahead and cut commitments that we've made on things like medicare or social security or medicaid, and for us to fundamentally change commitments we've made to make sure seniors don't go into poverty or children who are disabled are properly cared for rather than
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closing loopholes for corporation that is they don't need, that points to a long-term trend in which, you know, we have fundamentally, i think undermined what people expect out of this government, which is that parties sit down. they negotiate. they compromise, but they also reflect the will of the american people. that you don't have one narrow faction that is able to simply dictate 100% of what they want all the time or otherwise threaten we destroy the american economy. another way of putting it is we got to break the habit of negotiating through crisis. now is as good a time as any because if we continue down this path, then there's really no stopping the principle. i mean, literally even in divided government, even where we have a democratic president
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and a democratic senate and a small group in the house of representatives could simply say, you know, every two months, every three months, every six months, every year we are going to more and more change the economy in ways that we prefer despite strong objections of americans all across the country or otherwise we're going to have america not pay its bills, and, you know, that is no way for us to do business. by the way, i would make the same argument if it was a republican president and a republican senate and you had a handful of democrats who were suggesting that we are going to hijack the process and make sure that either we get our way 100% of the time or otherwise we are going to default on america's obligations. >> no, no. look, what i have said is that i'm happy to have a conversation about deficit reduction.
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jewel anna look. either congress pays its bills or it doesn't. now, if -- and they want to keep this responsibility. if they think they want to come up with a plan that somehow meets their criteria that they've set for why they will -- when they will raise the debt ceiling, they're free to go ahead and try. the proposals they put forward in order to accomplish that only by cutting spending means cuts to things like medicare and education that the american people profoundly reject. if they think they can get that through congress, then they're free to try. i think that a better way of
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doing this is to go ahead and say we're going to pay our bills. the question now is how do we actually get our deficit in a manageable, sustainable way, and that's a conversation i'm happy to have. have you spoken extensively about the debt ceiling. some have further said that they're willing to allow a government shutdown to take place rather than put off deep spending cuts. are you prepared to allow the government to grind to a halt if you disagree with the spending cut proposals they put forth, and who do you think the american people would blame if that came to pass? >> well ultimately congress makes the decision about how we spend money and whether we keep it open. if the republicans in congress have made the decision that they want to shut down the government in order to get their way, then
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they have the votes at least in the house of representatives probably to do that. i think that would be a mistake. i think it would add to our deficit because it would impede growth. i think it's short sighted. they're elected representatives, and folks put them into those positions and they're going to have to make a decision about that. i suspect that the american people would blame all of washington for not being able to get its act together. the larger issue here is what is it that we're trying to accomplish? are we trying to reduce the deficit? because if we're trying to reduce the deficit, then we can shape a bipartisan plan to dere-duce the deficit. is that really our objective? our concern is that we're
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spending more than we take in, and if that's the case, then there's a way of balancing that out so that we take in more money increasing revenue and spending and there is a recipe for getting that done. in the conversation that i had with speaker boehner before the end of the year, we came pretty close. $300 billion separating us when stretched out over a ten-year period, that's not a lot. it seems as if what's motivating and propelling at this point some of the house republicans is more than simply deficit reduction. they have a particular vision about what government should and should not do. they are suspicious about government's commitments to make sure that seniors have decent health care as they get older. they have suspicions about
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social security. they have suspicions about whether government should make sure that kids in poverty are getting enough to eat or whether we should be spending money on medical research. so they've got a particular view of what government should do and should be. that view was rejected by the american people when it was debated during the presidential campaign. i think every poll that's out there indicates that the american people actually think our commitment to medicare towards education is really important, and that's something that we should look at as a last resort in terms of reducing the deficit, and it makes a lot more sense for us to examine corporate loopholes before we go to putting a bigger burden on students or seniors, but if the
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house republicans disagree with that and they want to shut down the government to see if they can get their way on it, that's their prerogative. that's how the system is set up. it will damage our economy. the government is a big part of this economy. it's interesting that a lot of people who recognize that when it comes to defense spending, some of the same folks who say we have to cut spending or complain that government jobs that don't do anything. they say, wow, this is an important part of the economy in my district. we shouldn't stop spending on that. let's just makes we're not spending on those other folks.
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my hope is commonsense prevails. it's always my preference. that's what would be good for the economy. let me just repeat. if the issue is deficit reduction, getting our deficits sustainable over time, getting our debt in a sustainable place, then democrats and republicans in congress will have a partner with me. we can achieve that, and, you know, we can achieve it fairly quickly. we know what the numbers are. we know what needs to be done. we know what a balanced approach would take, and we've done probably more than half of the deficit reduction we need to stabilize the debt and the deficit. there's probably been more pain and drama in getting there than we needed, and so finishing the job shouldn't be that difficult if everybody comes to the conversation with an open mind
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and if we recognize that there's some things like not paying our bills that should be out of bounds. all right? i'm going to take one last question. jackie collins. yeah. >> i would like to ask you now that you've reached the end of your first term, starting your second, about a couple of criticisms. one that's longstanding. another more recent. the long-standing one seems to have become a truism of sorts that you and your staff are too insular, that you don't socialize enough, and the second, the more recent criticism, is that your team taking shape isn't diverse -- isn't as diverse as it could be or even was in terms of getting additional voices, gender, race, ethnic diversity. i would like you to address both of those. >> sure. let me take the second one first. i'm very proud that in the past
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four years we had one of the most diverse white house cabinets in history, and i intend to continue that because it turns out that when you look for the very best people given the incredible diversity of this country, you are going to end up with a diverse staff. that leads to more effective policy making and better decision making for me because it brings different perspectives to the table. if you think about my first four years the person who had the most impact on my foreign policy was a woman. the people who were in charge of moving forward my most important domestic initiative, health care, were women. my two appointments to the supreme court were women, and
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50% of my white house staff were women. i think people should respect that will be built upon. i have made, what, four appointments so far, and one woman admittedly a high profile one is leaving the administration -- has already left the administration, and i have made a replacement, but i would just suggest that everybody kind of wait until they've seen all my appointments, who is in the white house staff and who is in my cabinet before they rush to judgment. >> i guess what i'm saying, jackie, is that i think until you have seen what my overall team looks like, it's premature to assume that somehow we're going backwards. we're not going backwards. we're going forwards.
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with respect to this truism about me not socializing enough and patting folks on the back and all that stuff, most people who know me know i'm a pretty friendly guy. i like a good party. the truth is when i was in the senate i had great relationships over there, and up until the point that i became president this was not an accusation that you heard very frequently. i think that really what's gone on in terms of some of the paralysis here in washington or difficulties in negotiations just have to do with some very stark differences in terms of policy. some very sharp differences in terms of where we stand on
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issues and, you know, if you think about, let's say, myself and speaker boehner. i like speaker boehner personally. when we went out and played golf, we had a great time, but that didn't get a deal done in 2011. when i'm here at the congressional picnic and folks are coming up is and taking pictures with their family, i promise you michelle and i are very nice to them, and we have a wonderful time, but it doesn't prevent them from going under the floor of the house and, you know, blasting me for being a big spending socialist. and the reason that, you know, in many cases congress votes the way they do or talks the way they talk or takes positions and negotiations that they take doesn't have to do with me.
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it's the imperatives they feel in temz of their own politics. they're worried about their district. they're worried about what's going on back home. i think there are a lot of republicans at this point that feel that given how much energy has been devoted in some of the media that's preferred by republican constituencies to demonize me that it doesn't look real good socializing with me. charlie crist in florida testifies to that, and i think a lot of folks say, well, you know, if we look like we're being too cooperative or too chummy with the president, that might cause us problems. that might be an excuse for us to get a challenge from somebody in a primary. so that tends to be the challenge. i promise you, we invite folks from congress over here all the
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time. i -- when they choose to come, i enjoy their company. sometimes they don't choose to come, and that has to do with the fact that i think they don't consider the optics useful for them politically. and ultimately the way we're going to get stuff done. personal relationships are important. now that my girls are getting older, they don't want to spend that much time with me. i'll probably be looking for somebody to play cards with me or something because i'm getting kind of lonely in this big house. maybe a whole bunch of members of the house republican caucus want to come over and socialize more, but my suspicion is getting the issues resolved that we just talked about, the big stuff, whether or not we get sensible laws passed to prevent gun violence, whether or not america is paying its bills,
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whether or not we get immigration reform done. all that is going to be determined largely by where the respective parties stand on policy and maybe most importantly, the attitude of the american people. the american people feel strongly about these issues and push hard and they reward or don't reward members of congress with their votes. if they reject sort of uncompromising positions or sharp part sfwlanship or are always looking out for the next election, and they reward folks who are trying to find common ground, then i think you'll see behavior in congress change. that will be true whether i'm the life of the party or a stick in the mud. thank you very much, everybody. >> that was president obama
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holding his last press conference of his first term. the president discussed a range of issues, including the looming debt ceiling crisis. >> raising the debt ceiling does not authorize us to spend more. all it does is say that america will pay its bills, and we are not a deadbeat nation. what i will not do is have that negotiation with a gun at the head of the american people. the financial well being of the american people is not leveraged to be used. the full faith and credit of the united states of america is not a bargaining chip. >> joining me on the panel today, author and host of studio 360, curt anderson, the hills amy parns, msnbc contributor, former chief economic advisor for vice president bide sxen senior fellow at the center of budget and policy priorities, and henry kurtzburg, and joining
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us is peter alexander from the white house. do we have you there? we do. we had heard during the fiscal cliff/slope debate the president was not prepared to relitigate battles over the debt ceiling. he did not get that as part of the package at the end of the year, but this press conference should leave no doubt in anyone's minds. the president does not want to negotiate over the debt ceiling. >> as he wrapped up his first term, it's obvious the president will look forward to what will define the first several weeks of his several term. it will be thisbacks battle back and forth over the debt ceiling, and he effectively dared congress to let the u.s. default on its debt obligations right now. he said it's up to congress. he put it in their hands. his language specifically saying they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the american economy. just some of the language that he used today. he was challenged on this as well, obviously, as he has sort of drawn his line in the sand on the path on other issues. he even challenged on the issue of the debt ceiling when he was in the senate. he said that he wouldn't raise
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the debt ceiling, and now he is saying that the obligation exists for that to take place right now. he also laid out what i think is going to define some of the next several weeks, which is the issue of gun control. we are expecting that the vice president would be providing his recommendations following his gun violence task force about a month to the day now after the newtown shootings. those recommendations were expected tomorrow. the vice president is sitting down, alex, with the president for what will be a late lunch after about a 51 minute news conference wrapping up to share those proposals and the president made clear that later this week he will then have a more full presentation on what he plans to pursue going forward. i think he had a pretty candid admission in that news conference as well as it relates to this issue of guns. one of the very hotly contested topics on that is whether or not to reinstate the assault weapons ban. the president said will all of these get through the congress? i don't know. we'll have to wait and see what will happen. >> thank you, peter alexander, live from the white house.
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thanks for the latest. >> i want to bring in my panel here in new york. jared, we were talking as discussing in hushed tones not trying to miss a word of what the president had to say about the white house strategy, which was in place during the fiscal cliff negotiations, which is to go out there with the strong message, take it to the american people, and basically litigate it in the nation. he has done that. he is beginning to lay the ground, the foundation for that over the debt ceiling, which is to say i am advocating a reasonable "balanced approach" what the republicans want is effectively hostage taking of the american financial -- financial well being. >> exactly. even more than that, by taking some of the options off the table, the 14th amendment, the platinum coin, ways in which he could have perhaps gone above the debt ceiling without congress's approval, he is now totally committed to putting this back on the republicans. i initially thought it was a
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risky strategy. i have come to think it's the right strategy because if we don't fix this, as the president emphasized now, we're going to be back here month after month, and one of the things that resonated with me were some of his points about the underlying economy. i just don't believe people really want us to be arguing about self-inflicted wounds with an unemployment rate that's still too elevated, wages and income still flat. that's what people want us to work on. he needs to blow through this. >> joining us now is a moderator of "meet the press" david gregory. david, i wonder what you made of what jared just said, which is this contention by the president that the american people do not want the country's financial rating to be held hostage effectively, and he is betting against the republican notion that americans really do want to fight over the debt ceiling. >> well, a couple of points. i don't know that they've arrived at a bedrock strategy yet. i think it's very clear the president does not want to have these protracted fights over the debt ceiling because you have something that's so damaging if
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you can't reach an agreement and both sides ultimately know they have to get to some level of resolution so it becomes such a bad way to negotiate. the president institutionally would love to either get control of that, which he is unlikely to get, or to just make it a separate issue and then let them -- himself included -- all debate the deficit independent of raising the debt ceiling. he is making an argument. he is appealing directly to the american people about this. this press conference was mostly an argument about that very point, but at the same time you heard the president say that he is willing to make modifications to medicare. i know talking to other people close to him privately that that's very much on the table for him. so i think he would be open to looking for a way to now addressing entitlements, addressing some additional spending, and probably like some tax reform as well and keep the issue of revenue alive even if at the end of the day that has to be pegged to raising the debt ceiling. remember, the white house
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thought that the debt ceiling politics would only hurt republicans last summer. it hurt the president pretty badly as well. they're mindful of that. >> he is making a fairly strong opening argument months in advance of the actual deadline. david, in terms of how the republicans respond to this, we dot a read-out on mitch mcconnell's statement which we were noting is not as antagonistic as it perhaps could be. the president did not minutes words when speaking about the speaker of the house. we don't have his response yet, but mitch mcconnell does say i do know the most important issue confronting the future of our country is our deficit and debt. we are hoping for a new serious ons the part of the president with regard to the single biggest issue confronting the country. we look forward to working with him to do something about this huge, huge problem. opening the door perhaps to a deal. >> well, i think there's a potential for that. i mean, there's going to be -- you know, the trick here is going to be finding the space where within the political limitations that both sides are feeling they can make some concessions. the white house doesn't feel like they've got a partner in
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republicans. republicans just had to vote for a tax increase, so they're dealing with all the internal dissent over that. there is a kind of symmetry, if you go to the last battles much the budget control act. there were spending cuts to now revenue being increased, but the reality is that nobody is really dealing with entitlement programs. the big drivers of the overall debt. the president, you know, offering an opening today. republicans would certainly like to discuss that and talk about modifying medicare. the question is how far along can they get to try to decouple that from this idea of raising the debt ceiling, which is pretty toxic as a negotiation because neither side wants to get to the point where you have people questioning the full faith and credit of the united states. >> nbc's david gregory. thank you, as always, for your time. >> thank you. >> rick, we now got a read-out from the house. house speaker john boehner's office. says the american people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time. i don't actually have time to
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read the whole thing, but they are still going back to this notion that people want cuts, people want cuts, do not pay the bill without getting cuts in return. >> well, the problem is that -- and why the president wants to move this off the debt limit on to the budget is that nobody likes debt. debt is not popular. you ask -- if the question is would you like to have more debts? would you like to owe more money? of course people are going to say no. if the question is would you like to cut grandma's medicare, would you like to cut defense, then you get down to what is actually involved. in this situation, you know, the president can obey one law. there's a law that says you will spend some this money. then there's this other law that says you will not spend this money. he can't obey both of them at once. >> curt, the other thing that the president did over and over again was try and put some -- put this negotiation, this battle, if you will, in the context of i think the international stage, which is that america is not a deadbeat nation. i actually thought that was a really effective rhetorical
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device, if that's what it was, which is to say let's take a look at ours. let's take a look at the ways in which we are shooting ourselves in the feet. it is hurting not just our economy, not just our sort of domestic dynamics, but it is -- what is america about? this is not who we are as a people. >> and using language like we're not a deadbeat nation is a good concrete way i think to frame this. if i'm the republicans, i don't understand if i'm the republican leadership, why i don't say at this point, okay, we welcome this sign of movement on big entitlement cuts and so forth from mr. president. we will lay down this threat for now, and give you this year, which is now still two years before the midterms to show your stuff. you've got six months. you've got nib months. let's make that deal. so don't disavoi messing around with the debt ceiling forever if i'm republican, but for now. >> amy, the -- this was earlier
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in the day. michael steele wrote in response to harry reid's urging of the president to not move on the debt ceiling, to not negotiate. senate democrats cannot ignore their responsibilities for political convenience, and the american people will not tolerate an increase in the debt limit. you have news from politico about intransigent house republicans saying let's take the company over and default on our credit. we're ready to do it because what they care about at the end of the day is their own districts and not getting primaried in 2014. >> i think the house speaker knows that in his heart of hearts he can't do this. he is facing a really tough constituency, and he is facing really part of his -- a part of the party that isn't -- that doesn't agree with him, but, you know, he knows that this can't happen because the president will take this on the road and say, look, this is what republicans are doing. they're holding us hostage. so that's a problem for them. >> there is no doubt that we are going to hear the word balanced and reasonable and responsible a lot in the course of the next three months. we have to go to break, but before we do we want to update ow new news regarding former
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george h.w. bush. the former president will be released from methodist hospital in houston today. mr. bush was admitted to the hospital around thanksgiving suffering from a severe case of bronc kites and a very bad cough. we will have more on president bush's condition when we get it. after the break president obama also addressed the pressing issue of gun reform during his news conference. we will look at some of the latest options when we are next on "now." i've always had to keep my eye on her... but, i didn't always watch out for myself. with so much noise about health care... i tuned it all out. with unitedhealthcare, i get information that matters... my individual health profile. not random statistics. they even reward me for addressing my health risks. so i'm doing fine... but she's still going to give me a heart attack. we're more than 78,000 people looking out for more than 70 million americans. that's health in numbers. unitedhealthcare.
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>> my point is to focus on what makes this, what works. what should we be doing to make sure that our children are safe and that we're reducing the incidence of gun violence. then members of congress i think are going to have to have a debate and examine their own conscience. >> that was president obama a few moments ago at today's news conference saying he will push ahead with gun safety laws despite part sfwlan politics. one month ago today a massacre
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at sandy hook elementary took the lives of 20 children and six adults. this morning citizens of newtown, connecticut, launched a nonprofit called sandy hook promise. things must change. this is the time. >> on sunday the center for american progress, a progressive think tank, unveiled a broad agenda for gun reform recommending 13 new laws ranging from background checks to banning assault weapons and high capacity clips. today vice president biden will give his list of recommended gun safety laws to president obama. joining us is the president and the ceo for the certain for american progress. thank you so much for joining us. >> it's great to be with you. >> so, mira, we just finished talking about the debt crying and how the president is laying the ground work pursuing a broad argument understanding that at the end of the day he may have to cut a deal in some fashion. i wonder if the same thing isn't actually going on over gun laws, which is to say there is a broad package on the table.
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you guys have a very aggressive package of sensible gun laws, i might add, and at the end of the day the president said today in the press conference, will we get everything? probably not. i'm paraphrasing. is this effectively just staking out the biggest piece of property you can on the issue of gun control, preparing yourself for what will be probably a very heated battle in the end. >> well, i do think that on a range of issues the president has decided that -- if you look at his press conference, that you know, he has a strategy of flooding the zone. he is going to take bold action across comprehensive immigration reform, gun -- preventing gun violence legislation, even a stronger position on the debt limit, and i think that that's good news for those that were concerned about preventing gun violence because it means that the president isn't going to sensor himself. he is not going to worry about, you know, what can pass the house today. it's really going to worry about what is the right thing to do as he said himself, and that would mean taking steps that include an assault weapons ban as well
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as background checks and dealing with these issues like assault magazines that are designed to mow down as many people as possible. i was heartened by what the president said. i said he put out a variety of ideas. this is a moment to act. we are one month away from what happened in newtown. it was a tragic, tragic day, and doing nothing would be -- would make that tragedy worse. that's why i'm hopeful. >> the washington post had a really interesting story about the history of the nra, and it basically talked about how it went from being a marksman, sportsman's organization to a very powerful weapons lobby. in the piece they write that the nra is absolutist in their interpretation of the second amendment. >> the president was asked today about gun sales and the fact
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that since newtown gun sales have increased, and we're seeing sort of that trend born out, which is to say the more people feel threatened that perhaps they may not be able to get their bushmaster rifles, the more they go out and buy them, but the more ob stinent the argument against any sort of gun reform becomes. >> right. i mean, one of the things that happens every time people think they're going to be more strict gun laws, you know, they go out and buy more guns, and i understand that. i thought what the president said is exactly right. you start with a blunt package going for all the things that you think will help. the question i have -- i actually believe the white house really doesn't know this. the president himself said had. just counting noses, how far ool actually get with the vote. it makes sense to start here. if you are, by the way, heard governor o'malley. a great progressive agenda,
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including fingerprints if you are a gun owner. i would call that one end of the contin wum. i doubt we're going to get near that, but it makes sense to go for the gold here because it's such a national -- it's such an issue of such national importance. >> and the motors are running on the state level. we know that there is a package outlined a deal in new york state which is going to be a much more aggressive assault weapons ban, banning high capacity magazine clips. jarrett talks about what is happening in maryland. that is going to provide some amount of fuel for an aggressive argument for gun control in congress. >> yeah. those are really good ideas, and they would be even better if we had strictly police borders between states so that we couldn't -- so that we weren't at the mercy of all the states where they have lousy gun control laws. it's kind of sad really in a way, though, that the maximum positions we talk about don't even come close to what lyndon johnson suggested in the aftermath of the kennedy and
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king assassinations which is the single notion, license and registration, just like cars. that's not even thinkable as a maximum position anymore. >> if we talk about maximum positions, before we let you go, in terms of the assault weapons ban, joe manchin saying he didn't think an assault weapons ban standing on its own could get through congress. it had to be part of broader reform. are you optimistic about an assault weapons ban? >> you know, i actually have heard from moderate gun owning members of congress, mike thompson was there today talking about these issues, and he is open to an assault weapons ban. he is, in fact, supporting an assault weapons ban. i think the issue here is really putting members on the spot. you know, let's not say what can and can't pass. let's put things on the table and make people take a vote. if they really want to say that we can't do anything to solve these problems and we have another tragedy, then it will be on them that they act. >> we will be following it.
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>> before we go, curt and amy, the president was asked at the tail end of the press conference about diversity and the cabinet. how much hot water do you think he is legitimately in on this? >> not much. >> not to be an apologist for his insufficient hiring of women in high profile positions, but 43% of his appointes have been women. he tried to hire a black woman to be secretary of state. >> and it didn't work. amy. >> it's been a headache for him. front page of the "new york times" photo. all men. my mom is concerned about it. >> if amy's mom is concerned about it, it's a problem. >> i think like the discussion is how much of this is optical, and how much is substance? i think it's substantive. i think when a different -- i
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think with a different gender and race perspective is at the top of the table it matters. >> i wasn't a fan of that photo, but we have a lot manager discussing to do on it, right? >> we have to leave it there. >> before rick gets to weigh in. >> as curt anderson, amy barns, jared bernstein and rick. that's all for now. see you back here tomorrow at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific. andrea mitchell reports. right in the old bucket. good toss! see that's much better! that was good. you had your shoulder pointed, you kept your eyes on your target. let's do it again -- watch me. just like that one... [ male announcer ] the durability of the volkswagen passat. pass down something he will be grateful for. good arm. that's the power of german engineering. ♪ back to you.
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